Rules for crew changes (updated 17 July)

17 Jul 2020 / Pakistan

The following rules for crew changes in Pakistan are now in force and must be complied with. Failure to do so will result in the rejection of crew change permission and may be deemed criminal offense, with heavy penalties.


  • Crew must bring latest COVID-19 PCR test report, generated only 48 hours before.
  • Hotel stay is only allowed only for 72 hours as per limit mentioned in the Landing Permit. Thereafter, crew must join their vessel at berth or outer anchorage. If joining is not possible, they must leave Pakistan before the Landing Pass expires.
  • If joining a vessel at outer anchorage, arrival of crew at Karachi airport must during the daytime as the port authority service boat is not allowed to leave the jetty with on-signers after sunset. Otherwise, crew must stay in hotel until daylight.
  • If joining the vessel at outer anchorage, flights/arrival of crew must be arranged one day after the vessel’s arrival as immigration, dock security and PMSA will only grant permission once the vessel has arrived at outer anchorage, not before.
  • For OK to Board (OKTB), two letters are usually arranged for on-signers - one Confirmation/Guarantee letter (LOG) from GAC, and the other from the concern airline’s local office. Due to COVID-19, most airlines are not issuing OKTB. If it is possible for on-signers to fly with GAC’s LOG, landing permit (VISA) will be arranged on arrival. If any on-signer experiences difficulty due to non-availability of the airline’s OKTB whilst traveling, GAC cannot be held responsible.
  • E-ticket must be sent to arrange OKTB at least 48 hours (working days) before departure of the flight from its origin. Upon receiving the e-ticket for joiners, we have to receive landing permission from immigration authorities on the basis of immigration permission and our LOG, and the concerned airline will issue their “OK TO BOARD” letter.

Visa can be arranged on arrival (LANDING PERMIT) for joining crew only if arriving at Karachi Airport, for all nationalities except Israel.

Joining crew should not depart on flight without OK to board letter at least. Any joiner that misses their flight must not arrange new flight without new OKTB letters.

At times, a full working day will be needed to receive PMSA permission if crew are joining at outer anchorage.

Crew joining a vessel at Pakistani ports must sail with the vessel and cannot off-sign after joining and before sailing. Crew cannot stay in a hotel if their vessel is at berth.

Crew’s landing permit to crew will be granted on arrival only if they have VALID PASSPORT AND SEAMAN BOOK ISSUED FROM SAME COUNTRY & SAME RANK MENTIONED ON THE SEAMAN BOOK. Availability of both the documents (passport & seaman book) is compulsory.

CLEAR READABLE COLORED SCAN COPIES OF SEAMAN BOOK / PASSPORT (FRONT PAGE / SHOWING ISSUING AND EXPIRY DATE) WITH RANK OF THE CREW and e-ticket must be provided at least 48 working hours prior arrival of joiners.

Joiners should show their Seaman Book / Passport to immigration authorities at Karachi airport and advise authorities that “they have arrived to join the vessel MV XXXXXXX at PORT QASIM or KARACHI PORT and M/S GAC Pakistan (Private) Ltd is their agent.

Joiner must have their home company's letter mentioning full particulars / details of seaman and clearly mentioning that they will join the vessel MV XXXXXXX at PORT QASIM or KARACHI PORT.

On Signing of INDIAN, BANGLADESHI, BURMI, AFGHANI, VIETNAMESE, MYANMAR, NORTH KOREAN & TAIWAN NATIONALS crew is permitted under immigration escort only and THEY ARE NOT ALLOWED TO STAY IN HOTEL. They must proceed from airport to the Ship directly under immigration escort. They may not join the vessel from anchorage, so flights must be arranged on the basis of the vessel berthing schedule or arranged when vessel is at berth.


  • Port Health Authority will conduct the COVID-19 scanning. If symptoms are detected in off-signers they will ask the agent to arrange their COVID-19 test report on an urgent basis.
  • For crew found to be infected after test report, it is at the discretion of concerned authority that what action they will take regarding the vessel and other crew members.
  • All airlines require a COVID-19 test report before boarding or departure from Karachi Airport. The report must not older than 72 hours.
  • Check with the airline what rules and regulation apply. If they do not require a negative test result, they should be asked to send an email to their local airline office in Pakistan confirming that crew may fly without COVID-19 test report and the airline’s local office in Karachi send a copy of the confirmation email to GAC.
  • Flights should be arranged directly from port/vessel to airport in order to avoid any hotel stay.
  • If an off-signer needs to stay in hotel before their departure from Karachi Airport, before disembarkation they must provide their COVID-19 PCR test report, without which they cannot stay in the hotel.
  • Hotel stay is only allowed only for 72 hours as mentioned in the Landing Permit. If departure is not possible in this time, crew must leave the country or re-join the vessel at berth or outer anchorage.
  • If signing-off from the vessel at outer anchorage, flight from Karachi airport must be in between 1800 hours to 0300 hours local time as the authority service boat is not allowed to leave the jetty to bring off-signers after sunset. Otherwise, disembarkation must be arranged one day before departure or before sunset and crew will have to stay in hotel until their flight and the vessel must stay at outer anchorage until off-signers’ departure, if crew ichanging from outer anchorage..
  • If crew leaves their vessel from outer anchorage, flights must be arranged before one day of vessel’s sailing. Vessel will not be allowed to sail until off-signers have departed Karachi Airport.
  • At least 2 days are required for COVID-19 report.

Crew can only fly to their home land and if need to fly to other country he must be in possession of the valid visa of that country.

A copy of e-ticket must be provided to arrange exit visa and to obtain permissions from local authorities.

At least 24 working hours is required to arrange crew sign-off permission.

Off-signing of INDIAN, BANGLADESHI, BURMI, AFGHANI, VIETNAMESE, MYANMAR, NORTH KOREAN & TAIWAN NATIONALS crew are permitted under immigration escort and THEY ARE NOT ALLOWED TO STAY IN HOTEL. They must leave vessel to airport directly under immigration escort. They are not allowed to disembark from the vessel at anchorage, so

In case of flight change or cancellation of crew change where immigration permission and OKTB has been already obtained, this cost will be settled in the account.

On/Off signing crew seaman book must be previously endorsed as SHIP’S CREW RANK only. Other ranks Superintendent / Owner’s Representative / Vetting inspector / Expeditor / Auditor / Supernumerary / Technicians / Riding Crew etc are NOT ALLOWED to Sign On/Off the vessel as per local immigration regulation.

If crew is changing from outer anchorage then vessel must be registered to port authority and anchorage charges paid for the vessel’s stay during crew change operation by vessel. The Master of the vessel must arrive at Karachi outer anchorage area and have to contact with port control authority to register their vessel and inform port control authority that vessel has arrived on ETC timings for crew change purpose only. Thereafter, that port control will register their vessel and PMSA will grant the permission to service boat to go alongside the vessel for crew change purpose.

Once the vessel arrives at Karachi outer anchorage and is registered, it cannot sail without performing crew change operation and vessel / owner must submit the undertaking to the agent and port authority that the vessel will not sail without performing crew operation.

In case of any emergency, permission must be requested of the port authority through the handling agent, and after port's confirmation vessel will be able to sail.

Passport and seaman book copies of all crew on board is required with the arrival crew list (endorse form Master of the vessel), before vessel’s arrival to immigration.

Before vessel departure, a departure crew list is required (endorse form Master of the vessel) with all crew passport and seaman book copies on board including newly joined on-signers then the immigration authorities will issue the clearance and allow the vessel to sail.

For further details and updates, as well as information about operations in Pakistan, contact GAC Pakistan at [email protected]

If quoting any content from Hot Port News, please cite GAC Hot Port News as the source.